How to Remove Kitchen Cabinets without Removing Countertop

Updated: | Author: Elissa Huebert | Affiliate links may be present.

You spent a lot of money on a gorgeous countertop, but now your cabinets look shabby! This happens more often than you can guess. So, is it possible to keep that amazing countertop in place and remove the offensive cabinets?

It is possible to remove lower cabinets without removing the countertop in the process. The key to this project is the strategic placement of a horizontal brace, clamps, and vertical braces to hold the countertop in place while the cabinets are removed.

However, it can be tricky and even dangerous if the countertop is not held securely in place while the cabinets are being removed.

How to Remove Cabinets without Removing the Countertop

Though it is tricky, you can remove lower cabinets while leaving the countertops intact! Here is everything you need to know to start this project.

Materials Needed

  • A drill with a variety of bits
  • At least 6-8, heavy-duty clamps
  • A utility knife
  • A scraper or putty knife
  • A long iron pipe, or sturdy strip of lumber
  • 2×4’s or 2×6’s for vertical supports, cut the length of the distance from the floor to the bottom of the countertop.
  • Small saw

Remove Cabinets While Keeping Countertop Intact – Detailed Steps

Create Braces

This is probably the most important step! You must support the countertops before you remove the cabinets. If this step is not done correctly, the countertop could fall and break or injure someone.

Place a sturdy piece of lumber or a metal bar across the front of the countertop. Place a clamp every one to two feet. Make sure the clamps are firmly in place.

Use the boards as vertical supports under the metal bar. Wedge the boards tight against the metal bar and the underside of the cabinet.

Remove All Doors and Fixtures

Next, carefully remove the cabinet doors, drawers, handles, and any other attached fixtures. If the counter feels unstable at any point, add more supports and clamps.

Remove the Cabinets

Most of the time, the top of the cabinets will be attached to the countertops with some kind of adhesive. Use a utility knife to break the bond between the countertop and the cabinet. Once the cabinets are removed, use the knife or a putty knife to scrape away any remaining glue.

Very carefully, remove one section of the cabinets at a time. Often, the only way to do this is to cut the cabinets out. Cut around plumbing and the braces. Place more supports as necessary. Go slowly and carefully!

Install New Cabinets As Soon As Possible

At this point, the countertops are only held up by your braces. Install the new cabinets as quickly as possible! It is best not to rely on the braces to support the countertops for too long.

Possible Obstacles

There are several issues that may arise during this project. These could be related to the following items:

Countertop Material

Stone countertops are very heavy! It may be difficult to brace heavy countertops. Granite will crack if too much pressure is applied. Quartz, on the other hand, is generally more forgiving. A Formica countertop is really easy to work with, but Formica is also inexpensive to replace. This is a lot of work to preserve an easily replaceable surface!


Most countertops are attached to the cabinets with an adhesive. As you probably know, not all adhesives are created equal! Most cabinets are attached with silicon. Silicon adhesive is removable, but it can be stubborn! Other adhesives may be easier to remove.

A Word of Warning

This is a tricky and possibly dangerous project! If you do not have the counters properly supported while you remove the cabinets, the falling countertops could cause damage and even personal injury. Proceed with caution!

Other Option – Reface the Cabinets

Resurfacing or refacing the existing cabinets is a way to give the cabinets a facelift without a lot of demolition! If the cabinets are not strong enough to hold up the countertop, they can even be reinforced.

Final Thoughts

If you are determined to preserve your beautiful countertop while replacing unsightly cabinets, it can be done! Make sure your braces are secure, remove the existing cabinets, install your new cabinets, and enjoy your beautiful kitchen.

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About Elissa Huebert

Elissa has been a homeowner for two decades. As a home school mom, she has to spend the majority of her days at home, so it was quite natural for her to become enthusiastic about things like home improvement, DIY and space management. In her free time, she loves reading and writing. She's also an avid runner and recently ran her first ultramarathon.

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